13 Feb Both of Oregon’s U.S. Capitol statues could be replaced

National Statutory Hall in Washington, D.C. may currently be home to two historic statues representing Oregon, but a state committee has recommended that both be brought “home” and replaced in the U.S. Capitol by two new sculptures.

In news that will interest many of those considering custom made bronze statues from Big Statues, a four-member shortlist has already been drawn up to replace both Jason Lee and John McLoughlin as faces of the state. The contenders include Native American leader Chief Joseph, suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway, Republican senator Mark Hatfield and Republican governor Tom McCall.

Two of these will be chosen by the Statutory Hall Study Commission on March 4, marking the culmination of a long debate by the Oregon Legislature about the potential replacement of Lee’s statue with one of Hatfield. Although a House of Representatives vote has approved of the change twice in the past, it was rejected on both occasions by the Oregon Senate.

In an effort to resolve the question, the nine-member commission was appointed in August by governor John Kitzhaber and legislative leaders. Public testimony was taken by the commission alongside its work with the Oregon Historical Society to reach an appropriate decision.

With the hall’s 100 statues – two for each state – presently including only nine women, there has been a push to feature a woman among Oregon’s new statues, with several pioneering female figures having been suggested.

The Statesman Journal reported in August that former representative Carolyn Tomei, D-Milwaukie, was open to the idea of one of the statues being replaced, but was listening for suggestions of potential nominees, including women.

The cause of including Hatfield, meanwhile, has been pushed by Silverton representative Vic Gilliam, a former intern for the senator who has repeatedly testified before the House that Lee should be replaced with Hatfield.

A Methodist missionary and overland pioneer, Lee is credited with settling Salem after venturing to Oregon to attempt to convert Native Americans to Christianity. McLoughlin, meanwhile, was a fur trader from Canada whose assistance of the American cause in Oregon led to him being considered the “father of Oregon”.

Here at Big Statues, we await with interest the news in March on who will be chosen to represent Oregon in place of these two men in National Statutory Hall – and we certainly can’t wait to see the custom made bronze statues that result!

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